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Farmers Market christens 1400 Plaza with a bang

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New Castle Mayor Greg York, in yellow, explains to Henry County Farmers Market vendors how work will continue on the east end of 1400 Plaza. The mayor then officially dedicated the downtown plaza with a word of prayer and a fireworks display.
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Vendors for the Henry County Farmers Market filled one side of the newly-opened 1400 Plaza Saturday morning. The new spot allows more parking for customers and,onceconstruction is completed, electric hookups for the vendors. The Farmers Market runs from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturdays.

By DARREL RADFORD - dradford@thecouriertimes.com

Downtown New Castle’s new 1400 Plaza isn’t quite done yet, but its potential as a gathering place was on full display Saturday morning when the Farmers Market was held on the newly paved area.

The reviews – and results – were as grand as the fireworks Mayor Greg York set off that morning to christen the long-awaited and anticipated opening of the plaza.

“Numerous vendors said they were as busy from 8 o’clock to 9 o’clock as usually they were from 8 o’clock to noon,” Mayor Greg York said at Monday’s New Castle Board of Public Works and Safety meeting. “At the end of it, as they were finishing up, every one of the vendors said it was a record day of sales. There were so many tents up. It just felt like if you didn’t stop, you were missing something. Vendors said they saw so many new faces.”

Timing for the Farmers Market move to 1400 Plaza couldn’t have been better, because Main Street, its former location, was in the midst of a paving project.

The amount of space created for events like Farmers Market makes them more accessible to everyone, city officials said.

Now that the parking lot is done, city officials say they will mark designated spaces soon for those who live in the Jennings Building Apartments, alleviating any potential conflict when events are held on the plaza.

“I saw a lot of elderly people walking up to it who probably wouldn’t have from two blocks away,” York said. “They were able to pull into the parking lot on the 14th Street side and were just a short walk away. The parking has increased 10 times better than what it was before.”

“I think when they get the other part of the plaza done where you will see tables, I think you’ll even see more people,” Board of Works member Dave Copenhaver said.

York said more improvements will take shape at the plaza over the next several weeks, including a stage for musical events, a shaded area with tables for people to sit and a fountain that will provide the soothing sound of falling water.

In other business at Monday’s meeting:

n The board approved a $282,200 payment for Milestone Paving, which is working on city streets. “I think the streets are looking great,” Copenhaver said.

n City Transportation Manager Doug Sloan asked for permission to donate one of the three used buses no longer in service to the Henry County Sheriff’s Department Honor Guard. City Attorney David Copenhaver said he would prepare a resolution for officials to consider making that happen. The non-profit honor guard appears at parades and various ceremonies throughout the year. It consists of retired military personnel alongside retired city and county law enforcement officers.